Essay on Plato's City-Soul Analogy and the Nature of Justice

1962 Words Oct 18th, 2010 8 Pages
What is the purpose of the city-soul analogy and does it help us understand the nature of justice?

In his philosophy, Plato places a large emphasis on the importance of the idea of justice. This emphasis can be seen especially in his work ‘The Republic’ where, through his main character Socrates, he attempts to define the nature of justice and to justify this definition. One of the methods used by Socrates to strengthen or rather explain his argument on justice is through his famous city-soul analogy, where a comparison between a just city and a just soul/individual is made. Through this analogy, Socrates attempts to explain the nature of justice, how it is the virtue of the soul and is therefore intrinsically valuable to the
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57).

The view that perhaps the city-soul analogy was also used to pacify the working class in order to strengthen to position of philosopher kings leads to another possible purpose to the city-soul analogy, one that involves justifying their importance in the political world today, depicting them as somewhat indispensible elements in society. Several critics, including C.C.W. Taylor, have even gone so far as to label Plato’s definition of a just city as totalitarian in that philosopher kings in theory would have authoritarian-like power in the state (Taylor 1986, p. 32). Philosopher kings in the state function as individuals who continually search for true knowledge and thus are the only ones who know the good (e.g. justice) from the bad (e.g. injustice), deeming them the best men fit for ruling. It is also the job of the philosopher kings to share the true knowledge they have attained with the rest of the city through education. Earlier, questions were raised against who or what determined which people were classified into which political class in the city. According to Socrates, as individuals are allocated to classes according to their proper function, these functions are determined through a designed educational system, that of which is

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